“Theirs was a
fairytale Facebook romance” is what they’ll say about my relationship with Jason.Â They saw it from the very beginning, they did (“they” being his Friends, my Friends, and anyone reading the Newsfeed). From the matching statuses of “New York bound” (do you think anyone will put 2 and 2 together? we giggled on the Acela on the way up) to the first photos we shyly uploaded during our first trip together last autumn, little did we know at the time, but our Facebook romance had begun.Â The first picture I took of him and uploaded was during dinner at Rue 57.Â He was holding a martini, grinning slyly from ear to ear.Â He then took one of me with he left palm under my chin, matching same smile to his (you can see it at the top of this page).Â It wasn’t til later that we uploaded face photos of us together.
Then one day we agreed to put our status as In a Relationship.Â Gasp. The Friends’ Liking began.Â This is a huge step in the world of Facebook. HUGE. What’s even bigger however, came next. We finally took the plunged and actually tagged each other as being the other person in our relationship.Â Newsfeed: “Jason Kampf is in a relationship with Pamela Lynne Sorensen” GASP again! Like, like, like! Yay! Congrats! ensued publicly and so on. The world of Facebook friends showed mutual appreciation. It was a five star day.
We became more bold.Â We even changed our own personal profile pictures to have the two of us together, so everyone knew visually, we were a couple.Â Next came the photos and statuses of our trips, meals out, ventures to and fro, life experiences, holidays, good moments, strange moments, and outrageous moments, continued 100-fold.Â More likes, more comments … it seemed like everyone was enjoying this Facebook relationship just as much as we were.Â It was fun, sharing the good times with our Facebook friends.Â Month anniversaries, birthdays, happy, joyous occasions – we were saying “Join us, be part of this with us” … on Facebook!
Overtime, in real life, I had more and more people (real human beings, not Facebook photos and comments) coming up to me and remarking, “I have been watching you and Jason, haven’t met him yet, but he seems really great and I love seeing you happy!” andÂ “Your photos are just wonderful, they make me smile,” and “It’s so much fun to follow you and your boyfriend on Facebook. Always taking such fun adventures!” Even by way of emails I’d get kind notes giving a nod to the pictures, “Keep up the fun stuff, we love it!”Â This all made me feel warm inside. Our Facebook life was making other people happy too. Who would have thought?
After all, since I’d joined Facebook in the fall of ’07 (during its ancient pre-Timeline, rudimentary, almost static days), I’d not had a romantic relationship to showcase (hence, not gotten engaged, nor married), nor moved residences, much less cities nor states, changed jobs, had a baby …. and that’s most of what I noticed the rest of my Facebook friends were doing. Not that my personal life was boring, it was just not … really Facebook announcement worthy. Until last year.
And so I thought about how the culture of our lives has changed because of Facebook, ON Facebook. We learn so much of major modifications in our lives ON Facebook. New loves, reunions, BIRTHDAYS, anniversaries, moves across the country, babies, babies, and more babies, growing children, grad school admittance, grad school graduation, engagements, weddings, career changes, job promotions, handbag, shoes, car and house purchases, puppy/kitten/horse acquisitions, and fantastical trips across the globe (not to mention the political sentiments) …. but there is another side to life (and if Facebook is to imitate life correctly): with the good, must come the bad.
The bad … well the bad can range from breakups and broken hearts to learning you or a loved one has been stricken with cancer, or that a child has been rushed to the emergency room, or that a parent or grandparent has been admitted to the hospital, or that one has lost a job, a pet … or worse a life.Â I’ll never forget the time I wrote on a Friend’s wall, a man who had nothing but happy party time photos up consistently, “Happy Birthday” and the next day, I received an email from a real life friend who told me that he saw I had written on this gent’s wall and that sadly, he had taken his life a few days before.Â I was stunned.Â But he was alive. On Facebook.Â But so were several other Friends who were no longer with us.
By way of Facebook, I am still Friends with the dead: one who had passed away from old age, another from disease, another from a terrible tragedy, another from an accident…their profiles remained up.Â People continue to write on their walls, some because they don’t know these Friends had left our planet and some because they know.Â Writing on their walls is a way to comfort themselves. It is a headstone, a wall of tribute, a collection of photos of the deceased’s lives that is to never go away, there for Friends to visit again and again; remembering, reminiscing, paying respects.
“When I write on her Facebook wall,” a friend told me about a woman who had died last year, “It’s like I get to share things with her, like when she was still alive.” Another told me that he felt weird about his Friend’s profile still being up.Â “It doesn’t seem normal, I mean, what do you put on his status, Deceased?”
I found out about the sudden death of a real life friend’s close real life friend very recently by way of Facebook and like those before me, I felt compelled to write on a few walls. Many had written on the deceased’s with an outpouring of sadness, but more over, Friends, friends, and family wrote compassionate comments on the widow’s wall, who was in extreme shock and grieving, openly on Facebook. She and her closest friends and family shared on Facebook how devastated they were and no one spared them from writing how terribly sorry they were.Â Comment after comment flowed on Facebook. The widow responded with such appreciation and gratitude for the love and comments she was receiving.Â The conversation was open.Â She was in need and Friends, friends, and family were openly engaging.Â We knew many were grieving, we saw, we read, we felt on Facebook.
I think of this phenomenon that has happened over the course of years, this living, loving, dying and grieving on Facebook. The once alternative universe that has become an integral part of our lives, our REAL lives so much that if we, who are connected to it, were to leave it, we’d be saying good-bye to such an important part of our REAL lives.Â Granted, there are the trivial aspects (“I love cupcakes!”) to Facebook, as well as obnoxious, borderline pornographic, redundant, annoying, and just plain stupid.Â And I admit that Facebook as a platform, is part of the success of my own career; it’s become a necessity for me and many others professionally, as has Twitter.Â But to say that nothing ever good came from Facebook from a personal perspective would be wrong.Â It’s developed into such a part of our real world, that even through tragedy and sadness, Facebook can bring people together.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.